2010 Colloquium Series

On Friday, April 16, Lisa Breglia (Assistant Professor, George Mason University), will present a talk titled "Tourism: The Last Resort." Location: Room 101, Archeologocal Research Facility, 2251 College Avenue (on the UC Berkeley campus). Time: 4pm.

Synopsis: Isla Aguada, Campeche, Mexico is turning to tourism as a last resort. It’s a half-hearted and last-gasp effort to revive the local economy yanked up and down by successive cycles of boom and busts, most recently, the utter decimation of the fishing industry not coincidentally occurring with the rise of oil exploitation in one of the world’s most prolific oilfields. Cantarell, Mexico’s lifeblood since 1980, lies in the Bay of Campeche just off Isla Aguada’s shores. Here Mexico has carried out the most extensive offshore production ever known on the planet—most of the oil destined for export to US. After decades of intense exploitation, Cantarell has peaked and rapidly declined. Without Cantarell, Mexico’s federal budget faces a significant shortfall. State and municipal budgets in “oil-affected zones” such as Isla Aguada face an even more direct hit from the decline. First without fishing and now without oil, the residents of this once picturesque village are turning to what resources remain within their surrounding natural environment to revive local industry. This discussion chronicles the ironies of turning to ecotourism as a last resort in Mexico as well as a global “postpeak” environment.

Speaker Bio: Lisa Breglia is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University where she is Assistant Director of the Global Affairs Program. She is the author of Monumental Ambivalence: the Politics of Heritage (U of Texas, 2006), an ethnographic study of the the competing claims of ownership of Maya monuments in Yucatan, Mexico. She is also author of numerous articles and essays on heritage, ethics, and ethnographic fieldwork. She is currently completing a new book on Mexico's oil industry based on research in Gulf coast communities.

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